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The Importance of Receiving

The Importance of Receiving

With the holidays upon us, it’s fair to say we’ll probably be doing a lot more giving in the days and weeks to come – whether it’s giving parties, gifts, donations, side dishes, or our time. For women, in particular, giving tends to be our default…our wheelhouse. Many of us have no problem giving, whether during holiday time or throughout the year; but when it comes to receiving, it can be a whole other story.

[Related: What Will You Do for Giving Tuesday]

From an early age, many of us were taught "It’s better to give than to receive" – to the point where some of us feel almost guilty accepting anything from anybody. When compliments are given, I often hear women brushing them aside by saying things like, “Oh this jacket? It’s old,” or “It’s just the lighting in here,” instead of simply saying “Thank you” with appreciation.

When presents are opened, how often have we – or someone close to us – said, “Oh you shouldn’t have,” or “This wasn’t necessary.” While one might feel this is an honorable response, it can actually serve to bring the party down. In addition to taking the joy of giving away from the giver, this type of response says to the world, “I’m not worthy of receiving.”

[Related: Women and Giving: Increasing the Happiness Quotient]

In her bookThe Power of Receiving: A Revolutionary Approach to Giving Yourself the Life You Want and Deserve, Amanda Owen reminds us that giving and receiving are two sides of the same coin, that there can’t be one without the other, and that it is as honorable to receive as it is to give. Owen makes the case that, in blocking one side of the equation – by not being open to receive even the little things such as compliments and gifts – we can inadvertently be blocking the bigger things, like the flow of abundance into our lives.

On the very first page of The Power of Receiving, Owen writes, “The world will only give you as much as you can receive.” So I hope that, amidst all the giving this holiday season, you’ll allow yourself to receive with appreciation and joy. When it comes down to it, the more you allow yourself to receive, the more you have to give!

[Related: 2018 Holiday Gift Guide: 18 Fabulous Gifts By Women, For Women]


Caroline Dowd-Higgins authored the book "This Is Not the Career I Ordered," now in its second edition, and maintains the career reinvention blog of the same name. She is Executive Director of Career and Professional Development at the Indiana University Alumni Association and contributes to Medium, Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Ellevate Network, and The Chronicle newspaper in Indiana. She hosts and produces an online show, Thrive!, about career and life empowerment for women on YouTube. Caroline also hosts the international podcast series Your Working Life - on iTunes and SoundCloud. Follow her on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter.

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